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Of Mice & Men Alum Austin Carlile Delivers Emotional Speech to OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute

The final day of 2016 saw Of Mice & Men‘s Austin Carlile step away from the band he created while determining that due to his ongoing battle with Marfan Syndrome that he could no longer front the group. Since that time, the singer moved to Costa Rica for additional treatment, but has largely stayed out of the spotlight while his band continued with new music. However, on Friday (June 23) in Portland, Ore., Carlile made an appearance at the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute stressing the importance of having a cooperative care team and what it means to the patient to those at the Institute.

Carlile appeared onstage using an arm brace to steady his balance. During the course of the speech, he revealed that two cysts had shown up on his spine and that he had been in the hospital for the last two weeks. The speech at the institute came just as he had left Costa Rica and was heading to Stanford for more tests.

“I used to sing in a rock & roll group called Of Mice & Men, like the book. I have Marfan Syndrome and about eight months ago I had to quit playing rock music because of Marfan Syndrome,” Carlile told the audience, later explaining that he started the band after his mother had passed away. At the time, Carlile was a teenager and he thought his mother was having a heart attack, but it turns out it was an aortic dissection, something that is common with those dealing with Marfan Syndrome.

“You’re never prepared for anything like that. I was a 17-year-old kid and I didn’t really know anything that was going on. I remember leaving the hospital and not having any answers and I remember that that didn’t feel right. Little did I know that the next 10 years of my life would be a lot of ‘no answers’ and questions,” says the singer.

Carlile too had a lot of signifiers before being diagnosed, running down a checklist of having foot and ear surgeries, hernias, dislocated hips and troubles with his knees, legs and ribs. The singer got emotional a few times during the speech, admitting that it was hitting him hard telling his story.

“I got home from a tour one time. I couldn’t perform anymore,” Carlile says of being diagnosed. “I had three dural tears in my spine. My spinal fluid was leaking. I went to two or three different doctors and was turned away. I had a doctor call me a liar.”

He also stressed, “It means so much coming from the only people you know that have the answers and when they don’t have the answers you know that they’re trying to find them and I think that with cooperative care and having a team of people can make all the world of difference for someone.”

The singer admitted that when he was first diagnosed, he was lost, but he was thankful for the cooperative care team who were the only ones who truly understood what he was going through and he stressed to the staff what it means to the patient to have that care after struggling to find answers for so long. Watch the full speech above.

As stated, Of Mice & Men have continued with co-vocalist Aaron Pauley moving over to full-time vocal duty for the band. So far, they’ve released the non-album singles “Unbreakable” and “Back to Me” since the start of the year and have resumed touring.

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